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Designing on A Vancouver R1-1 Lot: Key Site Design Considerations

Updated: Feb 6

As you redevelop your property in the City of Vancouver's R1-1 zone, understanding the intricacies of the zoning bylaw can be daunting. As your trusted building designer and strategic advisor, we’re here to simplify the new regulations.

The R1-1 zoning bylaw governs the development of single-family and low-density residential properties within Vancouver. It allows for a variety of housing options, including single detached houses, duplexes, laneway houses, and multiplexes. Each housing type is subject to specific guidelines and regulations outlined in the zoning bylaw.

Here are some key insights into specific site requirements for an R1-1 building site.

Builder: Venture Pacific

Tree Protection


Preserving existing healthy trees is a key consideration in your redevelopment project. Whether you're planning a multiplex, a house, a duplex, or a laneway house, preserving trees on your property and neighboring properties is essential. The R1-1 Zoning Bylaw mandates tree preservation in front and rear yards, with specific guidelines for different housing types.

New Tree Planting


For every tree removed during redevelopment, new trees must be planted to compensate for the loss. The number and location of new trees depend on your property's frontage and zoning regulations. Additionally, tree selection must comply with the Protection of Trees By-law to promote biodiversity and environmental sustainability.

Neighbour Trees


Respecting trees on neighboring properties is equally important. You'll need consent from neighbors for tree removal and must provide arborist reports to assess tree impacts and propose mitigation measures. Collaboration with neighbors and adherence to arboricultural best practices ensure responsible tree management during construction.

Garages, Fences, and Accessory Buildings


Structures like garages and accessory buildings must be carefully positioned to minimize tree removal and promote root and canopy growth. Low-impact point footings for fences and setbacks for accessory buildings are essential to protect trees and maintain their health.

BC Hydro Requirements


Depending on your project's size and electrical demand, BC Hydro may require transformer upgrades to support increased service demand. It's crucial to engage with BC Hydro early in the planning process to evaluate service needs and reserve space for transformers on-site.

Existing overhead transformers and electrical works must comply with safety regulations and clearance requirements to ensure the safety of your development. 

Detention Tanks


Multiple dwelling units require detention tanks to manage stormwater runoff effectively. These tanks reduce flooding and erosion by collecting and storing stormwater during heavy rainfall, releasing it gradually to the downstream drainage system.


By understanding R1-1 site requirements early on in the process, you can ensure a successful project.  City of Vancouver sites can be challenging due to their smaller size, but if planned carefully, can create a vibrant and sustainable development for many generations to come.

As your architectural designer and strategic advisor, we’re committed to guiding you through every phase of the redevelopment process, including the initial Site Analysis.  Contact us for a Complimentary Consultation and get the process started.


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